How to present yourself well on Zoom, Skype or Teams?
For about a year now, instead of shaking hands, we give a virtual high five, instead of sitting in an air-conditioned conference room and talking to a friend next to us, we participate in meetings at home. Is this form of presentation different than the “live” one?
Many elements remain common – we continue to present a topic, we often use a multimedia presentation, we have an audience. However, the specificity of online speeches is completely different – we see small pictures instead of people, we express ourselves in the home space, we do not hear any sounds, because the participants are muted and we are usually only visible from the waist up.
What to do when speaking online?
Working from home, we may have an irresistible urge to sit at the computer in pajamas. Maybe this is why we remember those lazy Saturdays that we spent as children in pajamas with a cup of cocoa in hand. A better idea is to change clothes not only because of the view in the camera, but also for the psychological comfort and separation from the home zone and sleep. If we cannot be physically present at the meeting, at least we can teleport ourselves by dressing the part.
Research conducted by HBR shows that smart casual will be good both for a more official meeting and for an interview. Neutral colors will make us feel more authentic. If we want to convey the perception of an expert, we should dress formally, but if authenticity is more important to us, the perception of being trustworthy and innovative, then smart casual will be a better solution. Our listeners may find us innovative to the same extent regardless of whether we wear bright colors, neutral or patterns. The least desirable garment is home clothes (Zandan & Lynhc, 2020). Let’s wear pants in case we have to get up from the computer during the conversation;)
This is a controversial topic for many people – turn on the camera or not? Can you expect the other person to show up? Is turning off the camera during a conversation polite? Being visible for several hours a day can be tiring because we have to maintain the appearance of the space, which is normally just an office or a conference room. This is important, especially if there are other household members in our workplace and we do not have a closed, dedicated space. In addition, during training or meetings with several people, we are not observed and we do not observe several people at once. Most of the time, we look at the speaker and we glance at others from time to time. However, the situation forces us mainly to work remotely and have very limited contact with other people. Virtual meetings are therefore poor, but still a decent substitute for a real meeting. For this reason, it is worth setting rules. Some meetings do not have to be held with the cameras turned on and therefore can give us a moment of rest. However, if the majority have cameras turned on, you can be negatively perceived as the one who benefits from special privileges.
How to position the camera to look good? I definitely advise against the frog perspective, i.e. the shot that shows you from below. It is good practice to place the camera on a raised platform. We can use boxes, thick books or just a special stand for this. Thanks to this, our face will look more favorable and our interlocutors will not see the triple chin. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to show some body language when hands are also visible in the frame.
What is one of the more important rules for photography and videos? Good light! You may not be able to put your desk in a well-lit place, maybe you are struggling for any place to work;) There is a solution to this problem. You can get the so-called LED ring, which costs only a few zlotys. A clip that you can easily attach to the screen of your phone or computer will give you sufficient lighting during the conversation. Lamps of various sizes are available on the market with the option to adjust the light intensity. Mine is charged via a USB cable so you don’t have to produce garbage in the form of batteries.
All obstacles should be eliminated because they interfere with our message and, in the long run, they can drive our interlocutors crazy. What can cause crackling and background noise? If you do not have the opportunity to work in total silence in the apartment, invest in good headphones with a microphone or even special headphones with the “noise canceling” function. Another element that can cause noise is jewelry – earrings or bracelets. Besides, if we live on a busy street, it is worth closing the window. It is not a good idea to talk on public transport or on walks when we are wearing masks. When using sensitive microphones, it can also be annoying when you make sounds like yyyy, mmm, etc.
A well-prepared presentation will attract the attention of the audience, regardless of wheter you are live or online. However, many people forget that in this case, during a training session or meeting, participants do not see the large screen of the multimedia projector, but the laptop screen, which is much smaller. As a result, some of the data that would normally be a great base for presentation may not work. “Less is more” in this case seems like a reasonable principle.
Engaging your audience
Whoever has not sneaked on the Internet during a video conference, hands up! You probably didn’t raise yours hand (virtually of course;)). Being alone in front of the computer for 8 hours is difficult, and we definitely agree on that. To ginger up the listeners for long hours in front of the computer, use games, activities and energizers during the meeting.
I will soon start a study on how the background during a video conference affects the perception of an online presenter. You will be able to participate in it, but more on that soon 🙂
And for dessert, at the end, a fantastic sketch that captures the life of someone working remotely 🙂
Zandan, N. i Lynvh, H. (2020) Dress for the (Remote) Job You Want. Harvard Business Review.
Hi. Welcome to my blog 🙂 I work as a trainer and mentor for TEDx Warsaw speakers. I also help, among others, lawyers, vocalists, actors, lecturers and business people in preparation for their speeches in front of hundreds of people in the audience, as well as in conducting small meetings or presentations. For many years I worked on controlling the stage fright that kept me awake at night. I have always wondered how to manage the internal critic, not to worry about the opinion of others, and how to build a real sense of confidence on stage. Now I know the answer. Recently, I have given countless interviews, which made me aware of the importance of confidence in front of the camera. Having been involved in music since the age of 10, I know how stressful it can be to present to a wider audience. By combining my business and music experience, I can guide you through the process of changing direction towards your dreams. Based on my vast stage experience, I have gained the ability to provide adequate tools and methods of coaching that will support your development.